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Infertility puts men at increased risk of metabolic diseases

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Washington: A new study has found that almost one-third of men with fertility problems are at an increased risk of developing metabolic diseases as they age.

Swedish researchers measured the levels of sex hormones and other biochemical parameters in infertile men and showed that many of them are at risk of hypogonadism (low levels of sex hormones) as well as signs of metabolic disease and osteoporosis.

The group took 192 men with a low sperm count and compared them with 199 age-matched controls. They compared sex hormone levels between the groups, as well as other markers such as bone mineral density (which indicates risk of osteoporosis) and HbA1c (a biomarker for diabetes).

They found that one third of men under 50 with fertility problems, had biochemical signs of low sex hormone levels (e.g. low testosterone), which is known as hypogonadism. This was 7 times as common as amongst controls. These men also had low bone density, especially in men with low testosterone,- leaving them at increased risk of fractures and osteoporosis.

Hypogonadal men also showed biochemical signs of elevated glucose (with elevated HbA1c), and greater signs of insulin resistance – indicating a tendency towards diabetes.

Study leader Dr Aleksander Giwercman said, “We would recommend that levels of reproductive hormones should be checked in all men seeking advice for fertility problems. Those at risk of serious disease should be followed after the completion of fertility treatment.”

The study is presented at the European Association of Urology conference in Munich.

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